Sister Maribeth Carson
Maribeth was born during World War II in Wenatchee, one of two daughters of Ray and Wilma Carson. Since there was no Catholic school in Wenatchee, the family moved to Seattle where she and her sister Susanne grew up. Both graduated from Our Lady of the Lake and Holy Names Academy in Seattle. Maribeth attended Seattle University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in education, and went to work for Seattle Public Schools. She returned to Seattle University to begin work on a master’s degree in curriculum and Instruction with a reading specialist endorsement. Teaching in Seattle Public Schools, she loved being able to make a difference in the work of struggling students, raising their test scores and closing the academic achievement gap. After 25 years of teaching in the public sector, her life’s journey took a different path. “My career was very successful and I loved what I was doing, however, it wasn’t always fulfilling.” Something was missing. As she watched her aging parents become frailer, she met Providence Sister Louise Gleason at St. Mark’s Parish. Maribeth’s parents were applying to become residents at Mount St. Vincent. One day Sister Louise asked her if she had ever thought about being a religious. Maribeth’s response was: “What’s so different about what you do, and what I do?” After several talks with Sister Louise, the discovery came that more of what Maribeth did could be done in a community. Community was the piece that was missing. “I discovered that the call to religious life had always been there. It deepened my baptismal commitment to live into the life of Christ. It is also a way of being, and not just doing.”
The charism of the Sisters of Providence, serving the poor and vulnerable with the compassion of Our Mother of Sorrows, fit what Maribeth had been doing throughout her teaching career. With her parents in a place where they would be taken care of, she applied and was received as a candidate on August 18, 1991. She became a novice August 23, 1992, at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle. She flew to Edmonton, Alberta, and then on to Ottawa, Ontario, to spend a year at the Galilee Renewal Centre and Intercommunity Novitiate in Arnprior, Ontario, and also spent time in Calgary, Alberta. The program at Galilee had novices from other communities and also women religious from all over the world. Galilee is located not far from the motherhouse in Montreal. There were trips to visit and learn the roots of the community. Although the time in Canada was a very rich experience, the hardest experience of the novitiate year was the death of both her parents. Returning to the United States after her canonical novitiate, Maribeth spent her apostolic year at St. Joseph/Marquette School in Yakima, Washington. She professed first vows at Providence Heights in Issaquah and began her ministry as a teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows School in Portland, Oregon. Sister Maribeth professed final vows at All Saints Parish in Portland on September 27, 1998, and transitioned into parish work. She was director of religious education at Immaculate Conception Parish in Stayton, Oregon, before she took on the role of pastoral assistant for adult faith formation at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Everett, Washington. “What I loved most about parish work was helping the people and watching them grow into their life in Christ,” she said. After leaving parish work, Sister Anita Butler asked if she’d ever been on a board. ‘I’ve never been asked,” was Sister Maribeth’s reply. She became the sister representative on the board of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett Community Ministry Board. “I will continue with the board as long as I can,” she said. Besides her board and committee work, Sister Maribeth is concentrating on staying healthy through diet and exercise, reading voraciously and enjoying public radio and television programs.